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August 6th, 2021 Weekly Report
This week in legal sports betting news: North Carolina’s bill passed the senate; California is fully expected to have a vote for legal bets on their November 2022 ballot; and Florida’s pending sports betting law may pass muster with the DOI, affecting sports betting in the US as a whole.
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NORTH CAROLINA’S BETTING BILL GETS SENATE APPROVAL
On Wednesday, the North Carolina Senate voted to approve SB 688, which legalizes sports betting online and in-person in the Tarheel State. If passed, the bill is expected to bring in around $50 million in tax revenue. Senator Jim Perry is quoted as saying:
”I owe an obligation to the people I represent, to really take a hard look and a fair look at any possible revenue source that helps keeps our taxes down.”
Where will the money go? Half is expected to go towards promoting tourism and sporting events, while the other half will be invested in the state’s general fund. Numerous states all across the US are trying to refill their state funds after being largely impacted by the dramatic events of the pandemic.
That 8% tax rate is going to be pretty attractive to operators, as it is one of the lowest in the country. Certainly, if and when NC sports betting does go live, it will be a thriving, competitive market.
There’s still plenty of pushback from conservatives in the House, so the bill will have to stand up to legal challenges off of home field. However, there are some representatives in that chamber that have been amenable to sports betting in the past. We are keeping a bit of optimism that NC sports betting becomes a reality soon, and maybe soon enough to bet on your favorite NFL games this year.
VOTERS WILL OPT FOR/AGAINST CALIFORNIA SPORTS BETTING IN NOVEMBER
It’s a bad time for the governor of California: voters in the Golden State have gotten enough signatures to go for a full recall vote of Governor Gavin Newsom. That ballot will go out in November 2022, but there’s another issue that is of primary interest to our readers: a referendum vote on sports betting.
Currently, the “California Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative” has gotten enough signatures to make it onto the 2022 ballot as well. This means that voters will opt whether or not to allow tribes, which currently have a monopoly on in-person gaming in the state, to also offer sports betting on tribal land. (The developments that we discuss further on in this article between the Department of the Interior and Florida may have an impact here.)
Should California opt for this initiative on the 2022 ballot, there’s sure to be lobbying to follow. For example, major players in US sports betting like DraftKings and FanDuel have already hired lawyers to fight for a more competitive, unmonopolized gambling market in other states. The same is sure to happen in CA should the above initiative get approval in 2022.
With the pace of things and expected snags, don’t expect California to legalize sports betting in any form until at least 2023, barring any emergency sessions of the legislature.
FLORIDA SPORTS BETTING ON THE ROPES
Florida’s sports betting law is waiting in the wings, hoping to get its curtain call. But things aren’t as hopeful for the law as initially thought, and there are multiple obstacles that FL sports betting needs to jump over before it actually becomes legal.
The short version: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made a deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to offer mobile and in-person sports betting in the state. This is a deal that will affect the existing “compacts”, agreements between the tribe and the state to allow for in-person gambling on tribal land.
The definition of “tribal land” in particular is interesting here, because if the Seminole Tribe of Florida is allowed to offer online betting from servers on tribal land, that may challenge limitations in other states, and tribes could potentially offer online sports betting in any state, even those without legal wagering laws on the books.
In order to make changes to the existing compact, the US Department of the Interior (DOI) has to give their final approval and write the changes in a document called the “Federal Register” in order for them to take effect.
The 45-day period for the DOI to comment ends on Thursday. If the period elapses without comment from the DOI’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, the changes will be approved. That doesn’t mean smooth sailing for Florida’s betting law, though: approval without comment means that lawyers, lawmakers and lobby groups like No Casinos will have a field day tearing apart the bill, as everything will be left to interpretation.
No comment from the DOI means that there will be no instruction from the federal government on what can and cannot be allowed. It will also compel tribes in other states to pursue online sports wagering licenses even if their state doesn’t have a sports betting law. Should that happen, we may see sweeping attempts by tribes to offer digital sports betting all over the country.
Written by Chris Altman, our US Sports Betting Industry expert. You can learn more about our author’s expertise here.